Raised On Honor- Frankie Perrone’s 49 Panhead

Originally Published In The April 2014 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

Article By: Chris Condon

Photos By: Cynthia Raven

Feature 3a April 14 Kerri

Frankie Perrone is the epitome of a true, hardcore biker. Frankie grew up on the streets of NYC. The Bronx was where he learned to be a man of honor. A word not often exemplified in this day and age. While most of us were still getting our ass wiped by mommy or not even born yet, this guy was living the life. At 65 years old, Frankie still kickstarts and rides this same Panhead that he built in the early ‘70s at 22 years old. There are F various movies we’ve all seen that have been made from excerpts from this man’s life, and that is a fact. Frankie is a true, standup guy. His handshake is his word and you had damn well better honor that. Frank grew up and rode with Big Vinny Girolamo — aka The Beast from the East — and if you don’t know who that is, you’d better do your homework. Frankie was also a drag racer in the seventies. His car — The King Rat – was a 1969 factory big block Chevelle and is part of East Coast drag racing history. He still owns that car, this bike and his 1940 Ford. He was also the undisputed NYC underground bareknuckle fighting champion in the ‘70s as well. He has been in countless movies and rock videos; he’s been there — done that. There are not enough pages in this rag to tell the tales Frankie has lived. I could go on all night about this guy, but I’ll stick to the bike for this particular article.

Frankie bought the bike in parts and proceeded to put it together with the help and guidance of two of the most influential people in East Coast motorcycle history: Mardo Bennett and Eddie Reed. Mardo is the guy who started the whole axed tank or alien tank movement here on the East Coast. Mardo was a member of the Bronx Aliens, hence the tank’s name. Frank used to hang out at the shop when he was a young upstart. He learned a lot from the old timers on how to build a hardcore bike that could withstand the brutal NYC streets.

Feature 3b April 14 Kerri

Frankie took parts he had collected at various places and put together a true NYC style street chopper. He started with a motor, tranny and a D&D frame. He acquired a narrowglide and shaved the legs and modified the trees. He then made a spool hub from chrome moly and built a straightlaced wheel from it. Frankie then designed the sissybar down at Eddie Reed’s shop, Classic Custom Cycles. He pieced together the rest of the bike with a set of speedster bars and a Bates’ fender. He rode the bike like that with a stock mechanical brake for close to 30 years.

Fast forward to 2003… Frankie, Indian Larry, Paul Cox and I were all on set with our bikes filming a TV show together. Larry told Frankie to bring the bike by the shop and he would go through it and give it some modern upgrades. Larry and Paul proceeded to give Frankie a much needed rear P.M. caliper. Paul made a beautiful seat and tooled boxing gloves in it from Frankie’s fighting days. They also added new cobalt magnets to the magneto, a steering dampener and some new clutches. The bike has been untouched since Larry did the modifications, other than points and changing oil. So here’s to you Frankie, a true brother that I love and have much respect for! He’s a real man who has survived it all and is still here to talk about it, and he’s still riding the same bike he built in his youth some 40 plus years later. I hope we can all be so fortunate.

Feature 3c April 14 Kerri

Raised On Honor Tech Sheet
Owner: Frankie Perrone
City: Bronx, NY
Fabrication By: Owner
Year: 1949
Model: EL
Time: 44 Years
ENGINE
Year: 1949
Model: EL
Builder: Owner
Ignition: Joe Hunt Magneto/Indian Larry
Displacement: 74 ci
Pistons: Yeah
Heads: H-D
Cam(s): It’s in There
Carb: Linkert M74B
Air Cleaner: H-D
Exhaust: Straight Pipes
Primary: Stock
TRANSMISSION
Year: 1949
Make: H-D
Shifting: Foot
FRAME
Year: 1969
make: D&D
Rake: Stock
Stretch: None
FRONT END
Type: ‘73 Shaved Narrowglide
Builder: Owner
Extension: None
Triple Trees: Modified by Owner
WHEELS
Front Wheel: Spokes
Size: 21”
Tire: Continental
Brakes: None
Rear Wheel: Aluminum
Size: 18”
Tire: Goodyear
Brakes: PM
PAINT
Painter: Jimmy McGrath (R.I.P.)
Color: Black
Type: Lacquer
Graphics: None
Molding: None
Chroming: Some
ACCESSORIES
Bars: Speedster
Risers: 4”
Hand Controls: Yes
Gas Tank(s): Original Alien Axed/Owner & Mardo Bennett
Front fender: None
Rear fender: Bates
Seat: Paul Cox
Foot Controls: H-D
Oil Tank: Aftermarket
Taillight: 1934 Ford
Headlight: Spotlight
Speedo: None
Photographer: Cynthia Raven

2 thoughts on “Raised On Honor- Frankie Perrone’s 49 Panhead

  1. Thanks for the info on the bike ! Met Frank at the Bronx Arthur Ave Car Show a few years back. Had a real good time talking with him about racing past, his Chevelle and New York National Speedway. Bronx to the core, a man of respect, and cool enough to take the time and talk with us. Hope to see you around somewhere on the circuit this year, King Rat ! And, thanks for the picture. Its my Facebook cover photo.

  2. Frankie IS the real deal. I know Frankie Perrone for at least 20 years and he TRULY is a man of honor! And tough as nails but heart of gold…. IF he likes you. If he don’t that’s your problem and IT WILL BE A PROBLEM. Remember this bike in front of his bike shop he had on Morris park ave in Da Bronx. You are the best Frankie. Joe K. (Still have the pic of you your kids and me in front of the old shop.

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